Bourride of Halibut

Pairs Well With

Serves 4-6


2 pounds halibut fillet, cut into equal pieces
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
8 garlic cloves, slivered
1 small leek, white part only, cut into thin rounds
1 small carrot, cut into small dice
12 very small new potatoes, quartered
1 small zucchini, cut into small dice
6 cups fish fumet
2 cups aioli
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
3 or 4 basil leaves, cut into very thin ribbons
½ baguette, thinly sliced, lightly toasted


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Season the halibut all over with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil or butter in a large, deep skillet set over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the fillets and sauté for 2 minutes; turn and sear 2 minutes more. Transfer the fillets to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic, leek and carrots and sauté until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, sauté for 2 minutes, add the zucchini and squash, toss together with the other vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Add the fish fumet, increase the heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Taste the potatoes and if they are not tender, simmer 2 to 3 minutes more. Taste the broth and correct the seasoning. Use a ladle to transfer 1 cup of the broth to a small bowl.

Return the fish to the pot, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, set aside a generous 1/3 cup of aioli. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the reserved broth into the remaining aioli until the mixture is smooth. Add 2 tablespoons more, mix again, and repeat, until all of the broth has been mixed into the aioli.

Transfer the fish fillets into individual soup plates. With the heat on very low, stir the tempered aioli and the fresh herbs into the broth and vegetables. Do not under any circumstances let the mixture simmer or boil. Remove from the heat.

Slather the reserved aioli over the toasted baguettes. Ladle broth and vegetables over each portion of fish, garnish with baguette slices and serve immediately.

When it comes to wine pairing, it can be rewarding to think outside the bowl, so to speak, and that is as true with our Wine of the Week, Pedroncelli 2012 Dry Creek Valley Block 007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($25), as it is with any well-made wine. This wine is full and broad on the palate, with focused black fruit, dried herbs and delicate spices. It has just a hint of licorice root, which reverberates during the wine’s lingering finish.

The wine is a natural with all the usual suspects, from eggplant, parsnips and sweet potatoes to slow-cooked lamb, braised goat and rare beef. But it is also excellent with halibut, a classic pairing, especially when the fish is finished with a sauce or condiment that enhances the match. Add a dollop of olive butter or a generous spoonful of black-olive tapenade and serve the fish grilled over pureed parsnips and you have a sensational marriage.

For today’s recipe, I’ve chosen a classic dish from the south of France, bourride, a seafood stew enriched with aioli and, sometimes, egg yolk. The rich, spicy broth cushions the palate so that the wine’s young tannins are held in check and the bit of basil makes the licorice flavors blossom.

The recipe, while not difficult, takes some time; it is best to make the fish fumet (stock) and the aioli the day before or at least a few hours before. If you need recipes for these, visit “Eat This Now”